Monday, December 7, 2009

Professor Florin Hilbay on Plurk

Wed, 2 Dec 2009.

"What's Plurk? (changes to a suspicious tone) Is that a porn site?"

-Professor Florin Hilbay

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Return of the Comeback: Conversation with God

Tues, 10 Nov 2009.

This is my most recent conversation with God. Because law school and spirituality go together.

GOD: Oy, 'musta na?

ME: Oks naman.

GOD: O, enrolled ka na?

ME: 'Di pa tapos.

GOD: Anobeh, bakit hindi pa?

ME: E si Ma'm Guanzon kasi wala pa 'yung Loc Gov grade ko.

GOD: Pero pasado ka na?

ME: Yes sir.

GOD: E 'yung kay Arno?

ME: Pasado rin. Kaso naawa lang sa akin.

GOD: O ayan ha. Basta 'yung promise mo sa akin ha.

ME: Anong promise?

GOD: Na pag-pina-graduate kita sa UP Law, maghu-human rights ka at pro bono ng bonggang bongga. Remember?

ME: Of course naman.

GOD: So natuto ka na ng lesson sa lahat ng nangyari sa'yo?

ME: Anong lesson?

GOD: Tungkol sa paggawa ng groups sa FB.

ME: Ay oo naman. 'Pag ginawan mo ng Fezbook group ang professor mo, makwa-kwatro ka.

GOD: Korak. Kaya 'wag ka na gagawa ng FB group.

ME: 'Wag ka nga gumamit ng "FB," hindi bagay sa'yo. Two syllables na nga lang, shino-shortcut mo pa.

GOD: Meh ganon...E ikaw nga "Fezbook" e.

ME: Mas ok nga ang "Fezbook" kaysa sa "FB" e.

GOD: Whatever. Pam-bakla ang "fez" e.

ME: E mas bakla ka nga kaysa sa akin e.

GOD: Trueness. So kailan matatapos ang enrollment mo?

ME: Um, this week?

GOD: Hay nako, tapusin mo na 'yan! Classmates mo ba uli ang blockmates mo?

ME: Oo, 'pag Fridays.

GOD: Nyak. E 'di classmate mo uli si...

ME: Malamang. Pero kebs. Hahaha.

GOD: Oo nga. Kebs. Ano ba 'yan, bakit ganyan ka pa rin tumawa sa intarwebz? "Hahahaha" is so 20th century. New millenium na. Ang uso na ngayon ay "LOL". Or mas uso pa d'on: "lawlz".

ME: Yuck kadiri ka God ang tanda mo na, nakiki-lawlz ka pa.

GOD: I know right. (hairflip and beardflip)


Friday, July 10, 2009

Legal Education—Outside the Classroom

Nothing should stop me from getting my legal education.

Despite being on residency this semester, I have decided to keep myself busy by finding a job, since idle minds are the devil's workshop.

And my job right now: Legal researcher and Administrative Assistant for a non-government organization.

Conversation between me and my auntie:

TITA: Sa'n ka nagwo-work ngayon?
ME: Sa NGO po.
TITA: Saang NGO?
TITA: NUPL? National Union of...?
ME: National Union of Peoples' Lawyers.
TITA: 'Di ba mga radikal 'yan?
ME: Um...'di naman po masyado.

People may criticize my choice to work for NUPL, and they may scoff at the pay I'm getting (let's put it this way: my sister's allowance is bigger than my paycheck). But I don't really care. I like it here. I get to do legal research for human rights cases. And that is the path I wish to take, once I get the title of "Attorney" prefixed to my name.

Also, the best advantage of this line of work is that you get jaded early. During the first two years of law school, you may think that the legal profession is all pristine and sacred, and that Lady Justice is totally blind behind the blindfold. But that's not true.

The legal profession is a very dirty ballgame. Well of course it is. It is probably the dirtiest profession in the history of the human race. It has more than a millenium of corruption and foul play behind it, and it will most likely remain unchanged. Possibly forever. But that's all right, really. The more rotten the profession, the more the good people stand out.

And that's what NUPL has. Good people who care nothing about money. Which is why I am so proud of it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Mon, 8 Jun 2009.

Realization: Am not as brilliant as I thought I was.

Oh well. C'est la vie.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On Senseless Facebook Groups

The thing with law school is that you have to do some crazy stuff just to keep your sanity. And my outlet is blogging and Facebooking. (Is Facebooking a recognized verb now?) Anyway, this is a story about a seemingly senseless Facebook group.

I created two Facebook groups, The Arno Sanidad Fan Club and Groupies of the Bing Guanzon Show. And then one day I got a message that said:

I am a very old, long lost friend of Bing Guanzon. Saw this group on FB. would love to get in touch with her. Please tell her it is Jiji Pama-Pawley. She can view my info on FB under Aura-Marie Pama Pawley. Hopefully we can reconnect. Thanks very much. I appreciate your help.

So I told Ma'am, and this is what she said:

hi GP,
thank you for the fan club! HAHAHA
Did you get my photo when I was mayor, seated on a rock, in black and white?
That's a good photo to remember your loc gov by.

I will leave the CD of "The Morning Show" ABSCBN visayas interview of me, the one you saw on the first day of class. if you want to post that, you may.

Jiji Pama is a dear friend. Thank you for reconnecting me with her.
Please give her this email address and my mobile phone.

Hmm, I think I will get a facebook too, to reconnect with old friends.

thank you

I was waiting for something like, "because you reconnected me with my dear old friend, I will give you a high grade." Or something like that. Hahaha. Of course I am only joking.

But still, moral of the story: seemingly senseless Facebook groups are not senseless after all. I have reconnected two old friends, and thus have made the world a better place.

And for that, the Barry Gutierrez Facebook group will be coming up soon. If I can find a decent picture of him. Only problem is, Sir Barry is also on Facebook. I just hope he's cool with it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gender Rights in the Continuum of Human Rights Development

(The title alone should stop you from reading any further. This is a full academic paper, though not one I'm proud of, as I believe it is inferior in quality to the academic papers I used to churn out in my undergrad days. Final paper submitted for Gender and Law, II AY 08-09.)

I. Introduction

The first mention of the equal protection clause was from the United Nations Charter, specifically Article 1 (3), which states one of the purposes of the United Nations as “[t]o To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”.[1] And of course we all know from UN history that the charter is basically smut, because it binds no one. Enter now the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the UDHR. Take note of Article 2, which states that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status x x x”[2]. Another sort of drawback here is that though the UDHR uses more legalese than the UN Charter, they are both not legally binding.

Enter now the conventions. First, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, more popularly known as the ICCPR, specifically, Articles 3 and 26. Article 3 states that “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant”[3], while Article 26 states “All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.” In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”[4] The ICCPR was the first enacted covenant in response to the non-binding characteristic of the UDHR, more specifically the equality clause. Most of the civil and political rights sought to be enforced are rooted in equal protection.

Next, we have the ICESCR, known also by its longer name, the International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. This convention sought to go into detail on some basic rights that seem to have been overlooked when drafting the ICCPR. These rights include the rights to education, clean water, and housing, among others. And like the name suggests, the rights sought to be enforced by the ICESCR mostly stay within the economic, social, and cultural realm. Then after that, we have the first attempt at addressing discrimination, albeit in its racial form, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination[5], or CERD.

After that is where it gets really exciting. The next major convention dealt with something that previous conventions never tried to tackle, at least independently. I am of course talking about the gender movement, or the fight for the rights of women, history’s most oppressed sex at that time (and some may argue, up to now). Which is why we now have the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women[6], known by its fearsome acronym, CEDAW. This five-lettered acronym somehow serves as the “last bastion of hope”, so to speak, for oppressed women everywhere. Finally, there is an international remedy available to females around the world, regardless of race, sex or nationality.

The gender movement has actually spawned several sub-movements, all falling under the category of discrimination based on gender. We have the fight for homosexual rights (which include the rights of both gays and lesbians). This radicalism encouraged more and more people who are oppressed because of their gender to come out into the open, and fight for their rights. These new radicals include the bisexuals, as well as the transgenders, who all claim to be fighting for one thing and one thing only: recognition before the law as a normal human being.

II. Main Arguments

The broad umbrella of human rights, specifically its development, is often misconceived. Most regard it as having happened in waves, in order of importance. For example, since the ICCPR came first, it is often argued that civil and political rights occupy center stage in the rights to be enforced. Does it follow, then, that since this covenant is meant to enforce the basic rights seemingly denied by the apathetic approach to the UDHR’s non-binding nature, that civil and political rights rank higher than other rights?

This is actually the point I would like to question, for to presuppose the transcendental importance of one group of rights over another is to presuppose a hierarchy. This is what brought about the wave theory, claiming that civil and political rights belong to the first wave, while economic, social, and cultural rights belong to the second wave, et cetera. But to assume that human rights developed in waves would be to conclude that gender rights are not as important as civil and political rights.

What I would like to posit is that human rights developed, and is developing, in a continuum. Every succeeding treaty, covenant, or protocol developed because the previous one was not entirely successful in implementing the crucial clauses, among others the equality clause. Discrimination based on gender (including also other forms of discrimination) is actually a continuing call for the strict reinforcement of the equality clause. In order to describe it better, it is the same as saying that gender equality should have already been guaranteed as far back as the UDHR; and since gender-based discrimination still proliferated, the ICCPR should have done the trick. But since the ICCPR was still unsuccessful in eradicating discrimination based on gender, they had to come up with the CEDAW to finally cement their claim. But honestly, after the CEDAW, gender-based discrimination still has a very strong presence in many cultures of the world, and in my opinion, this will never be enough. Human rights will continue to develop until we get everything right.

III. History

First up: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document came about because of that atrocious event known as World War II. It is no surprise that when you say “World War II Europe” one of the first images that comes to mind is that of almost-skeletal people in striped pajamas. These were the Jews, six million of them slaughtered like cattle in the event known as “The Holocaust”.

Along with the advent of world banking and dividing the world amongst themselves, the western powers improved on their previous attempt at a world government, the League of Nations, and developed the United Nations. A few years later, they came up with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in response to all the human lives lost during the war. The UDHR guaranteed equality before the law, as a person, and more importantly as a human being. Everyone in this world is entitled to the same basic rights, whether or not they have blond hair and blue eyes. Then they went beyond the physical, and threw in a few other things, like equality based on religious, linguistic, and sexual differences. Take note of the use of the word “sex” as opposed to “gender”, which is something I will be discussing later.

So now we have the UDHR, and everybody seems happy. Wrong. Discrimination still persisted, discrimination in all its reincarnations. Racial discrimination was still rampant, even post-1945, as well as the other types of discrimination, all in flagrant violation of the UDHR’s equality clause. And then they discovered one flaw: the UDHR was not binding on any nation, as it was not a treaty. What a convenient loophole, on the part of the violators, that is.

And thus was born the ICCPR on 16 December, 1966. Take note of these specific provisions (which I already mentioned at the beginning): Article 3, “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant.”[7] And Article 28, “All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”[8] These are reinforcements of the equality clause, and being the most important clause in the UDHR, violations of it cannot be made to pass on the mere technicality that it is not binding. The equality clause must be enforced, specifically because of the events mentioned in the preceding paragraph, and if it requires a treaty to bind the nations of the world, then that treaty has to be created.

Note that while the ICCPR seems to have partially solved the problem, it enumerates eight types of discrimination: 1) as to race; 2) as to color (although I think they are one and the same thing); 3) as to language; 4) as to religion; 5) as to political or other opinion; 6) as to national or social origin; 7) as to property; and 8) as to birth or other status. Now that is quite a mouthful in itself, taking into account also the sheer population of the planet, and if all these types of discrimination do indeed exist, then it is most likely that only one or two types of discrimination will actually be cured by the ICCPR. The status quo, like a living organism, will find a way to survive, and the rest of the other types of discrimination shall continue as if no treaty had been drafted in the first place.

Proof of this lies in the fact that despite the ratification of the ICCPR, the discrimination of women, simply because they are women, continues to thrive. Discrimination continues despite the ICCPR’s Article 28. It is as if Article 28 was never written at all.

And because of this, the women of the world had to unite and move for the creation of the Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women[9]. This was actually the second covenant to zero in on a specific type of discrimination, the first being the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination[10]. Its main objective is to make sure that the equality clause is strictly enforced in the area of discrimination based on sex.

Taking off from that point, we move now to the difference between the words “sex” and “gender”. What exactly is the difference? “Experts tell us that in the human person, sex and gender—the biological principle and the cultural expression—are not identical.”[11] Well, the word “sex” is most often used in its biological sense. It relies on one’s physical attributes. If someone has a penis, that someone is a male; a vagina, female. But discrimination is not based on physical attributes alone. Women are discriminated from some forms of labor not because of their vagina; women are expected to fulfill a certain “feminine role”, like staying at home, taking care of the children, and doing the laundry. Lesbians who fall under the “butch” category are often allowed masculine roles because the role they are expected to play in society is “exactly like a man, only with breasts and a pussy” (pardon my French). And homosexual men are discriminated from certain “masculine” professions, like the army, because gay men are expected to fulfill a softer, less manlier role, and a testosterone-filled place like the army cannot provide them with an opportunity to fulfill that role.

Because of that, the role of a person, as opposed to that person’s biological sex, had to be qualified, and the term gender was used to describe a person’s role in society. For both heterosexual males and females, “sex” and “gender” may overlap. But for the gays, lesbians, and transgenders, the distinction must be clear. Some people think that gays and lesbians only came out of the woodwork, so to speak, in the twentieth century. That is totally false. Gays and lesbians have existed as far back as recorded history allows. It was only during the last century that they started campaigning for the rights which they should already have in the first place.

IV. Analysis

Since the fight for the equality clause seems to have divided itself into as many groups as there are types of discriminations, we can predict that the full and actual realization of the equality clause as envisioned in the original Declaration might take years, even decades. The status quo is not something static that you can topple like a house of cards; it is a living and breathing organism, and it evolves with the times. So if new conventions or covenants against discrimination are passed, then the status quo, which thrives on discrimination, will be forced to adapt. So new types of discrimination might actually be formed from the prevention of other types.

So again, let me just reiterate that there is no such thing as a hierarchy of rights. There is only one long continuum of the enforcement of the equality clause as promised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

V. Local Application

Let us now go to the application of the gender-based discrimination struggle in the local scene by taking a look at some of the laws enacted especially for women.

Republic Act 8353, or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, is an improvement on the previous criminal statutes against rape. R.A. 8353 repealed Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, where it was still classified as a Crime Against Chastitiy under Title Eleven.

The Anti-Rape Law significantly broadened the crime of rape, and now redefined the act of sexual assault to include “inserting [a man’s] penis into another person’s mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person.”[12] This then makes it possible for men to be raped. So this law not only favors women, but also homosexual males, who are often victims of rape in prisons.

Republic Act 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act, was a latter enactment. This went further than redefining terms; this law actually went as far as to provide extraordinary remedies, namely the three types of protection orders: the Baranggay Protection Order, the Temporary Protection Order, and the Permanent Protection Order. Of the three, the Baranggay Protection Order, or the BPO, is the most innovative, as it provides a fifteen-day destierro against an offender, at the baranggay level, without need of judicial intervention.

R.A. 9262 was enacted also to answer the need of women to be protected from violence against them. The predominantly male Filipino culture expects women to fulfill the submissive role of a punching bag, there to take the blows of the her spouse when he is feeling angry, and there to give him sexual gratification when he is horny. These types of battery do not only leave physical pain, they also leave emotional scars, often for life. And worse than this is that they also propagate a culture of violence, and the less women talk about this problem, the greater the chance that this culture will be passed on to the succeeding generations.

And finally, we have the latest of our legal developments in the field of gender, and that is the Reproductive Health Bill. Those who have been keeping abreast know about the controversies surrounding this bill, about its stance on contraception, and its supposed effect on the Philippine population. I shall try not to dwell on its pros and cons, for even the experts can’t seem to compromise and find middle ground on this law.

The Reproductive Health Bill, or the RH Bill for brevity, was drafted using the word “gender”. It is specifically this six-letter word which caused quite a stir (that and the abortion angle), as this is first time the Philippines recognized the difference between the words “sex” and “gender”, and has seemingly applied it correctly. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, in true violation of the wall of separation between church and state, has “strategically suggested” that the word “sex” be used instead. I leave it up to your imaginative minds to figure out the Church’s motive in doing so.

In conclusion, let me just state that I believe that I have not done justice to this paper, as there a lot more points I would have liked to raise. Due to limited time, and unavailability of research materials, I have not been able to delve as deep as I would have liked to on this topic. The gender struggle, and the human rights movement as a continuum, cannot be adequately explained in approximately three thousand words. If given the chance, I would like to go deeper, and explore the human rights struggle in its entirety, focusing on the really strong and popular movements like gender. Well even the gender movement itself is such a broad topic that writing on that alone would consume so many pages, which in turn would consume so much paper, which in turn would consume so much trees. But such is the beauty of legal research, and academic writing should become second nature to law students, since no other method can expand one’s knowledge of something unless one writes about that topic. And the gender movement, especially in the times we live in, needs great writers to propel their ideas and advocacies through the new millennium.

[12]Article 266-A (2), Revised Penal Code, amended by R.A. 8353

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Last Day of Class: Loc Gov, or The Bing Guanzon Show Season Finale

Tues, 24 Mar 2009.

Because we are a very chummy class, we have pictures taken like this:

Check that out. That's us in the classic Bing Guanzon pose. She should have had that pose copyrighted, because Bayani Fernando might use it for his presidential campaign.

We are possibly the chummiest class this semester. Possibly even the chummiest class ever. I've never seen a chummier class, even in undergrad.

The Bing Guanzon Show is the only class in UP Law that lets you go out and immerse with the real local government units. The baranggay project may be the first and the last time that you can experience something like it within the halls of Malcolm.

And for more chumminess:

These were taken with Ma'am's camera; hence, the high quality (and the very long upload time). I believe I am the only one with copies of these pics. I even have the pics of the other class. Haha. There are actually more of them. My classmates are closet camwhores.

Join Groupies of the Bing Guanzon Show on Facebook. (Stay tuned for I Heart Sir Barry. For those who both love and hate Barry Gutierrez.)

It makes me wonder if we now have the right to call her Tita Bing. For more closeness.

Friday, April 10, 2009

For More Encryption

Once again. Encrypted for protection.

Date: HL30BD+3

The main event for this day shall be codenamed "Sleepless in Seattle".

*Play back memory. Again. And again. And again.*


Sunday, April 5, 2009

That Monstrosity Called Criminal Procedure

Sat, 4 Apr 2009.

I loved the exam. Yes, it was a bit difficult. Yes, I missed seven points (I left number nine blank). But I had fun. That exam is actually a preview of my career outside law school---defending all cases under The Dangerous Drugs Act. How to exclude evidence. How to get them out on bail. Et cetera. Et cetera.

There was one question there about "the distinct odor of burning shabu". I wanted to answer "but burning shabu has no odor!" But it might just invite questions like, "Well, how do you know so much?"

Duh. A lawyer should know those things, even if he/she doesn't use drugs.

Anyway, highlights of the day:
  1. I arrived almost twenty minutes late for the test (no excuse, just damn tardy).
  2. I failed to answer number nine.
  3. I got a parking ticket.
  4. I busted a tire.
All that in one day. Talk about bad luck. I just hope that after all that misfortune, I pass the exam. Please, God. Give me a break. I will lawyer for the poor people for free when I graduate. I promise. Just let me pass.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Right to Smoke

(Final paper submitted for IHR, II AY 08-09. This is more a reflection paper, not an academic paper.)

Let me start off by introducing you to Mario. Mario is a bright, recent college graduate. He graduated cum laude, and applied at once for a job. He was denied the position because it was found out that he smoked marijuana. He has been smoking pot since he was sixteen.

Then there's John, also a college graduate. He married a girl who was a US citizen. During the interview for immigration, he admitted to having smoked weed a few times when he was in college. He was denied immigrant status for something he smoked several years ago.

The names of these people are, of course, all fictional. But their scenarios are real. I personally know people who have experienced this kind of discrimination, all because of their marijuana smoking.

What I would like to point out here is that the right to smoke marijuana should be recognized. People should be allowed to smoke, or at least given the choice to smoke or not to smoke.

Before we start, let me just define some terms I will be using in this discussion. Marijuana is, of course, that infamous plant that is used for mind-altering purposes. Its active chemical is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The plant belongs to the genus Cannabis, of which the most popular species for human consumption is indica. It may be smoked, like tobacco, or it may also be ingested. The act of intoxicating oneself with marijuana is known as getting high.

Marijuana is also known by several names, the most popular being "weed" and "pot". The term "pothead" refers to chronic smokers, or those who get high at least once everyday, or almost everyday. I will be using the term "pothead" a lot in this discussion, simply because the alternative name "addict" is too harsh in my opinion.

Marijuana is of course outlawed by Western society, and by most of the world in general. They have declared potheads as criminals, because their acts (of getting high) are defined as criminal.

The criminalization of marijuana is rooted mostly in economics. This began way back in the early part of the twentieth century, and the war on marijuana was instigated by William Randolph Hearst, a rich American tycoon. Hearst owned a huge part of the US cotton industry, and declared war on the hemp industry to preserve his semi-monopoly on American fiber. He spread rumors about marijuana being "the devil's weed", used mostly by the African-Americans and Mexicans in committing atrocious crimes. In 1937, the United States Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act[1], which is the law that criminalized the marijuana plant.

But that's just the American scene. The rest of the world followed suit following the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs[2] in 1961. Previous treaties only mentioned opium and coca, and this is the first UN Convention that incorporated cannabis as a controlled substance. Several conventions followed, of which the latest is the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances[3] in 1988. And even today, marijuana still remains in the criminal category.

Of course, this is not to say that all states have the same marijuana laws. The Netherlands is one of the most popular countries where marijuana use is not considered criminal. The Dutch people actually “overwhelmingly approve of current cannabis policy which seeks to normalize rather than dramatize cannabis use.”[4] Take note that what the Dutch government decriminalizes is only drug use. “Production, trading and stocking drugs remain a criminal offence, as in any other country.”[5] Some American states and European nations have lowered the penalty for marijuana possession and drug use, but the Dutch government is still the leader in decriminalization for providing no penalty at all for personal marijuana use.

And since marijuana laws are not the same in all countries, despite the existence of all those conventions, then it follows that potheads are not treated the same in every country in the world. This then is where the problem lies. The right to smoke is recognized in some jurisdictions only. But I would argue that it is, and it should be, a universal right that must be enforced. The criminalization of marijuana has caused more harm to society, has broken up more families, and has shattered more futures than the actual plant itself.

Okay, so the anti-legalization advocates will argue that it is illegal because the law says it is, and because the United Nations classified it as such. And yet the power to reclassify marijuana, or to move it to a different schedule, also lies with the same body that declared it illegal. Somehow the illegal status of marijuana based on statutes is the first hurdle that must be overcome for decriminalization.

But assuming that there is no international convention or treaty in the way of decriminalization, marijuana use should still be afforded the same status as alcohol and tobacco. What alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana have in common is that these are all substances consumed for the sake of pleasure only. Alcoholics, smokers, and potheads should thus be given equal treatment, for the reason that people similarly situated should be treated equally. And the only thing that differentiates alcoholics, smokers, and potheads, is that potheads are, in the eyes of the law, dangerous criminals.

The difference in society’s perception between all these vices is actually one of the causes of discrimination. People who have drinking problems are sent to support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous; people who smoke pot are sent to jail. In the workplace, people who drink are reprimanded; people who smoke pot are fired. And again, what is the difference between the two but a few words on some piece of paper?

Another argument I would like to pose is that discrimination against potheads is a discrimination based on culture, or more specifically, a subculture. I firmly believe that pot smoking is already a valid yet unrecognized subculture. Among all the so-called substance abusers, the potheads are the only ones that satisfy the characteristics of a legitimate subculture. Let’s take for example the junkies (the heroin users), and the ravers (the party people who love dropping ecstasy). One could also argue that these people also form their own subculture, since they too have their own jargon, their own terms, and this subculture is also seen in the movies when they portray junkies and ravers, most of the time with startling accuracy.

But the pothead universe goes way, way deeper than the other so-called subcultures of the drug users. Potheads have their own websites, and their own literature. They have their own monthly publications, like High Times and Cannabis Culture, both very popular magazines with international circulation. Potheads also have a wide range of paraphernalia, which include, among others: bongs, or water pipes; rolling papers, with different grades, depending on the thickness of the papers; rolling machines, for those who do not know how to roll a marijuana cigarette with their hands; pipes, literally in all shapes and sizes, wooden, glass, and other materials, and even special pipes for smoking hashish; and hookahs, also in all shapes and sizes. These paraphernalia are sold online through the websites, or through the magazines, or physically at the marijuana coffee shops in the Netherlands. The companies who make these paraphernalia are devoted solely to that. They don’t make pipes on the side. They make pipes especially for these customers. These companies were created to cater solely to the potheads’ needs.

The potheads have their own line of clothes, the most popular being ordinary t-shirts emblazoned with the marijuana leaf. They also have their own music, embracing the laid-back sound of Jamaican-born reggae as their own, being compatible with their own laid-back lifestyle, and declaring Bob Marley as their official icon. They also have major organizations like NORML (National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws), whose sole mission is to see that potheads are protected from the unjust arms of the law. And they have countless celebrities, including famous actors, as well as athletes, all endorsing their call for decriminalization. Now I’m pretty sure the alcoholics, smokers, junkies, and ravers have nothing like this under their belt.

Much as I would like to stretch this topic into a full-blown academic paper, it would require tremendous research on my part, which I am not sure I would be able to do right now. But still, I hope I got my point across. Though some people may not recognize the right to smoke marijuana as a human right, something still has to be done about the discrimination that potheads go through simply because they refuse to stop smoking. Despite its illegal and criminal status, marijuana smokers continue to thrive, and I don’t see them decreasing in number in the years to come. So either the governments of the world start to reform the marijuana laws, or the potheads of the world will unite and start demanding their rights.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

How to Study for Crim Pro

1. Smoke.

2. Swim.

3. Read Rules of Court.

Repeat 'til sunset.

And I pray that I pass this semester.

*first two pics from Facebook. Last pic from Dino.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Last Day of Class: Gender

Fri, 20 Mar 2009.

This is another elective subject. And like most electives, we have no exams.

That's my professor, Carolina Ruiz Austria. Here are a few things I have learned about her since the start of the semester:

  • She is a hard-core feminist;
  • Her political alignment is red (not really sure, but I am almost certain);
  • She is smart;
  • She is pretty;
  • She is smart and pretty;
  • She is married (but does not wear her wedding ring);
  • She has a daughter.

I have a schoolboy crush on her. If she wasn't married, I would ask her out. Haha.

*pic taken without consent

Friday, March 20, 2009

Last Day of Class: Crim Pro

Thurs, 19 Mar 2009.

Goodbye, Sir Arno. I love Thursdays because of you.

Because we are a chummier class, we can have pictures taken like this:

That's Sir Arno Sanidad in the middle. Everyone present except Doc Jan Esquivel.

Thanks to Christian Silva for the not-so-high-quality pic. Ho-hum. (Why is everyone smiling except Sir Arno? And me. Hahahaha)

You can also join The Arno Sanidad Fan Club on Facebook. Another senseless Facebook group created by me. I love senseless Facebook groups. (Coming soon: I Heart Sir Barry on Facebook.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Last Day of Class: IHR

Wed, 18 Mar 2009.

The semester is indeed almost over. I will miss Sir Barry.

I will always remember him as the professor who was able to explain the difference between "equality in law" and "equality in fact," in less than a minute, in a way that you will never forget for the rest of your life.

I heart Sir Barry. Despite the previous dismal grades. Sir Barry is funny without even trying. Or maybe it's just me.

*pic taken without consent.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sharon, Gabby, and the Baranggay Protection Order

Mon, 16 Mar 2009.

More adventures outside Malcolm.

My neighbor and childhood friend (codename Gabby), male, police officer with the rank of PO1, had an argument with his wife (codename Sharon) last Saturday night. He hit his wife at the back of the head four times with the butt of his standard issue handgun. Then he left. As a police officer, he spent weekdays at his assignment (somewhere south) and weekends with his family. He would be back on Friday.

I went to his house and saw his mother. I gave her a copy of the Baranggay Protection Order form, told her to tell Sharon to fill it up, take it to the baranggay, then wait for the protection order, which should only take a few minutes. That would be valid for fifteen (15) days, at which Gabby would not be allowed to come near his wife and children.

Yay. I feel so lawyerly.

However, I sense a certain weakness with the mother, as if she is not brave enough to go against her handgun-hitting first-born. I also remember that there is also a certain weakness with the wife Sharon. Maybe by Friday, her head would have cooled off. Maybe she would miss her husband. Maybe they would have great make-up sex afterwards. Maybe the protection order would be forgotten. But still...

Yay, I feel so lawyerly. (Lawyerly may not even be a word.)

I would like to thank my professor Bing Guanzon, for teaching me to start acting like a lawyer outside the classroom. I heart Bing Guanzon because she makes me say I heart.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Miss President

Thursday, 12 Mar 09.

Happy birthday to our beloved class president, the soon-to-be-married Ms. Maricel Casison. She is 27 years old.

That's her on the right, calling everyone to eat her cake. Behind her is the usually tense Ms. Monica Marcelo, and the one in red is the always bitchy Mr. Rex Paras.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My First Client(s)


I missed classes to save my friends. I didn't really teach them the legal stuff. I taught them more about human relations and interactions with law enforcement agents (I am the first-born child of a police officer, after all, which makes me the most experienced).

Received a text message that said: Gp.nahuli kami.punta ka d2.dali.

I answered: San kyo?

Reply: grandstand (referring to the grandstand of the UP Sunken Garden).

I immediately went there, and I soon learned that my friends from undergrad were caught smoking pot by the Special Service Brigade (SSB for brevity).

To hide their true identity, I shall call the people involved by codenames. The students caught smoking were Marcos, Denver, Champoy, Byron, Airwalk, and Superstar, the only female in the group.

It seems that these students were smoking pot in the middle of the Sunken Garden, but no pot was actually found in their possession. All the SSB had was an unmistakeable lingering odor of marijuana and a couple of red-eyed kids. They were apprehended by two SSB agents, who we shall call B1 and B2.

When I got to the grandstand, Marcos was already conversing with B1. Among those caught smoking, Marcos was the most experienced, and he already knew what to do. So I let him be. Denver, however, was a little rattled, and kept whispering to me, "Geeps, pa'no to?"

I assured him, "Wala 'yan. Makakaalis din kayo mamaya."

Denver asked me, "Gaano pa katagal, man, kanina pa kami dito."

I looked at B2, and jokingly told him, "Ser, baka pwedeng sorry na lang, hahaha."

Champoy looked at me strangely, wondering how in the world I could manage to make a joke like that at a time like this. But that was part of my strategy, to let the SSB agents loosen up a bit.

Surprisingly, B2 answered, "Naku, hinihingi ko nga ID nila kanina e, ayaw nga ipakita e."

I looked at everyone and told them, "Bakit 'di niyo pinakita ID niyo? Titignan lang naman nila kung enrolled kayo e, para siguradong estudyante kayo ng UP. 'Di ba ser?"

B2 replied, "Oo, mga estudyante pala kayong lahat e. Sinu-sino pa ba magtutulungan dito?"

Lesson #1: SSB agents are nicer to bona fide students. Most offenses you get caught doing will be mitigated by the fact that you are enrolled.

Marcos approached us after talking for a long time with B1. "OK na pare, kakausapin nalang 'yung brod ko. Pero pupunta pa raw 'yung Team Leader nila." (referring to the Team Leader of the SSB agents B1 and B2.)

So while waiting, I decided to go and talk to B1 and B2. To get them on our side.

(points to me) Kasama ba 'to sa mga positive?

Hindi kasama 'yan.

Hindi ako kasama, pero kaibigan ko ang mga 'yan.

(to the ones caught smoking) Ser, itigil niyo na kasi 'yan e. Idol pa naman namin kayo. Kayo ang mga susunod na presidente ng Pilipinas.

Oo nga ser, 'di ba. Mainit pa naman ngayon ang Alabang Boys, kaya dapat mag-ingat sa mga ganyan.

Oo nga, tama 'yun, blah-blah-blah...

Lesson #2: Appeal to the human side.

These people are not the enemy. They are not monsters. They are people, with feelings, and hence, can be manipulated.

Team Leader then arrives. I tell Marcos to keep it at the same level, and apparently he already knows this.

Lesson #3: Keep it within the same level.

If we cannot settle this on the SSB level, they will take it to the UP Police. After the UP Police, still without settlement, they take you then to the Quezon City Police. So as long as we still had it on the SSB level, we had to make sure it stayed on that level only. Do everything you can to keep it from reaching the UP Police.

Then the Team Leader talks to Marcos, whose fraternity brother was the head of the SSB. They are able to reach a compromise, and they call for me.

Geeps, gawa ka raw ng promissory note, na hindi na raw natin uulitin 'to.

Ano, affidavit?

(points to me and explains to Team Leader) Kaibigan kasi namin 'to taga-College of Law.

A talaga? Misis ko nandiyan, sa Library nagtratrabaho, si Ma'am Trixie.

Sa second floor ho?

A hindi, sa baba siya e.

O sige ano isusulat ko?

Basta isulat mo diyan na atin-atin na lang 'to tsaka hindi niyo na uulitin.

A sige alam ko na.

Lesson #4. The name "UP LAW" carries so much weight that the law students sometimes take it for granted that they are studying in the best law school in the country.

And so I drafted something really quick for my friends to sign.

We, the undersigned, do acknowledge that we were apprehended by the Special Service Brigade this night, the 11th of March, 2009, at the UP Sunken Garden, for unruly behavior and loitering after curfew hours.

We were let off with a stern warning that repetition of said incident would result in strict disciplinary action in accordance with the rules of the University.

There. Not one mention of marijuana. Everyone signed it with their name and student number. I even volunteered to sign my name as witness, as a sign of good will to my friends.

Lesson #5. Never leave your friends/clients. They will rely on you to see them safely through the whole ordeal.

After that, they let us off the hook. It still cost my friends around P500, I think. Still, it's better than going to the police, right?

I kept saying "Thank you" to the SSB men involved, including their team leader. They were really nice after that.

Lesson #6. Never stop saying thank you. It boosts their ego.

Before leaving, I tried my hand at one more joke. I told them, "Ayan, mga ser, 'di ba may Alabang Boys? Eto naman po ang mga Diliman Boys."

Everybody laughed, both the potheads and the SSB guys.

You'll know it's a happy ending when everybody laughs.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Bing Guanzon Show: Free Drinks Special

The first group to present a report on the Baranggay Project was our group. After that the professor was so happy, she bought the whole class a round of (non-alcoholic) drinks.

Memorable lines:

Who doesn't know how to use a condom? I don't want you leaving my class without knowing how to use a condom. So that when you have sex, you'll think of me!
-Bing Guanzon

* * *

There was also a happy memory, though not as happy as "The Assassination of Anthony Soprano".

* * *

Another quote from Bing Guanzon:

Who's that? (pointing to a picture of me on the screen. I raised my hand.) Oh, I thought it was a kagawad.

That's definitely not the first time someone told me I looked like/sounded like/reminded them of a kagawad. Whatever.

* * *

Lesson learned: Sorority sister-relationships are stronger than mere friends or classmates.

Duh. What the hell was I thinking.

Anyway, whatever happened to equal treatment and cold neutrality?

The Assassination of Anthony Soprano

Encrypted for protection.

Date: W24BD+1

All events on this day are condensed into one single memory, codenamed "The Assassination of Anthony Soprano".

*Play back memory. Repeatedly.*

                       So far.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Baranggay Protection Order

The law school education should not be confined to the four corners of the classroom.

Which is why we have this baranggay project. We went out and gave a lecture about the Baranggay Protection Order, which is a local remedy for women against violence.

These are the beautiful ladies from my group, in the classic Bing Guanzon pose. One of them is my crush.

Anyway, the semester is almost over. Crunch time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Grilled on the Rowena Guanzon Show

For this story to have maximum effect, we have to start from the beginning. That's the 16th of December, the last school day before the Christmas break.

There were sixteen (16) cases lined up for that day, to be recited by sixteen (16) people. I had the last case, entitled Jainal v. Commission on Elections. I wrote my digest of the case, ready and prepared to recite. But since the Christmas spirit was good that day, not everyone was called to recite, yours truly included. Oh happy day.

Then the Christmas break came. Oh happy days.

Of course, no vacation is complete without pestering e-mails from the real world (or the Matrix, as I call it), and there were fifteen (15) new cases assigned to fifteen (15) new students. I thought, "Yes, I won't have to recite on the first day after the break!"

And so I spent the rest of the vacation eating, blogging, reading Twilight, and wallowing in love-related depression.

Fast-forward to the 6th of January, anno domini 2009. I was a bit late when I came to class, but I didn't care, as I thought, "I won't be called to recite anyway."

Then the professor goes, "Okay, we'll discuss Jainal versus COMELEC."

GPA: (thinks to himself) Why does that case sound familiar?

RVG: Who's reciting Jainal?

CLASS PRES. FERNANDEZ: Ma'am, it's Mr. Abrajano.

GPA: (frantically to himself) Oh my god, that's my case!

And the strangest thing about it was, I couldn't remember anything from my case. Nothing at all. All I remembered were the words "disqualification," "election," and a blank white space.

Like I said, this was totally unexpected. It's like being caught by your boss with your pants down. That's the closest feeling I could conjure to what I actually felt. So I had to stall for time, and rather than bluff, I told the truth.

GPA: Ma'am, I forgot the details. Please give me five minutes to review my notes.

You have to give me points for bravery. I haven't met any other student who could say that.

RVG: Five minutes is too long. Okay, go ahead, while you're reading your notes, we'll discuss Breaking Dawn.

There you have it. Our great professor reads Stephenie Meyer. So while she was discussing the fourth book in the Twilight saga, I asked my seatmate for her digest of Jainal (like I said, I wasn't expecting to recite at all, so I didn't have mine). I stared at the digest, but it was someone else's digest, which did nothing to refresh my memory. My mind remained a blank white page. I still couldn't remember the case. I wanted to just join her discussion of Twilight and hope she would let me off the hook for reading Stephenie Meyer.

After some time, Professor Guanzon goes, "O, Mr. Abrajano, what's taking you so long?" And then she starts calling on my other classmates to help me. "Miss X, can you recite Jainal? No? Mister Y? No? Miss Z?" (I don't remember who she called; my mind was totally blank.) Then she turned back to me. "The longer you don't recite, more and more of your classmates will get a grade of 5."

Okay, so that's the pressure right there. Then someone miraculously gave me a copy of the digest that I wrote myself. Finally, familiar writing. And the memories came flooding back.

I recited the case, in straight English, trying to make up with confidence what I lost with non-preparation. And I looked the professor in the eye.

This post also serves as a public apology to those who got a grade of 5 because of me. Like I said, all I saw during those precious seconds was a blank white page. That's all. I totally forgot the case. I don't mind if it's just me, but to drag you into it, I apologize. Anyway, don't feel bad about that grade, because you don't deserve it. I hope that consoles you even just a little bit.

Anyway, the newest law school formula is this:
non-preparation + over-vacation = mental block

To those who got dragged into this, again, I'm truly sorry. But I hope you also feel sorry for me, because I got grilled on the Rowena Guanzon Show.